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16th May 1999

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Mirror Magazine

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Front Page
Mirror Magazine

    Circus moves on to South

    The caravan which started in Wayamba, moved to five other provinces and now the South and the deep South has the ignominious honour of kissing goodbye to the political circus that was on display in all but two of the provinces of this country for the best part of this year.

    The Cabinet makes no pretensions about the fact that it's a Cabinet in absentia, and that the polls are first on the agenda as far as Cabinet priorities are concerned. They used to call this condition displaying a thick hide. But suffice to say, clinically, that the governing power elite of this country displays no particular embarrassment about the fact that it decamps en masse to the electorates when there is a poll in the offing.

    Having migrated to the electorates, the political breed generally involves themselves in all manner of sport, some which only the political breed would relate to. As far as common or garden political sport are concerned, the South is no different an arena from any other in the country.

    But the South also is a thinking electorate. That's not a perverse way of saying that the other provincial electorates of the country are relatively soft in the head. But, it's a way of acknowledging the fact that the South has repeatedly been a barometer of political trends as far as the rest of the country is concerned.

    It was in the South that the rot started for the seventeen year old rule of the UNP. It's the South that's always identified with, and sometimes romanticized for, a culture of radical progressive youth politics.. When the angst has spilled over in violence, the consequences have been disastrous. But, amidst all of this it's the South that has been always the politician's headache. That's why a "Southern development plan'' rings a bell, whereas a NorthWestern development plan is not heard of.Perhaps, therefore, the tolerance threshold in the South is less than it is in the country's other electorates. The Southerner has a short fuse, and he will tell all political no-goods and con-artistes to get off, before the rest of the country gets round to giving that message.

    So the southern electoral battle may be the last and the most decisive before the next electoral outing the country will experience, which will be a countrywide contest. The way the South tilts will be closely watched by all political players, con- artistes included. The South too can mimic the way in which the other electorates polled. The result may be the same on the face of it, but what will still be important is to read between the lines of the final vote.

    That arrest

    The arrest of a journalist work-ing for a Sinhala language newspaper and the publicity being given to the event, is undoubtedly a matter of concern for the journalistic fraternity. But, yet, having said that, there is also something rather ham-fisted to be observed about the way in which the journalist's arrest is being portrayed.If the said journalist was a murderer and a JVPer passing off as a scribe, it's excellent that the long arm of the law has finally been able to catch up with him after all these years.

    But, serious matters should not be made fodder for trifling exercises of point scoring. If we hear an undertone that there is a brittle streak in the entire media fraternity just because there appears to have been one dangerous confidence trickster among the media's ranks, it's hoped that what's being heard is not a considered view.

    It's only a little sad that the outcry that blows things out of proportion tends mostly to obfuscate and cloud the issue at hand. If the man was a murderer, just let the public know the facts and not crow about it.

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